Some words just sound really nice, irrelevant of their meaning; for example, dariole. It came up in the crossword the other day and I was surprised my husband didn’t know… I think he thought for a moment I was teasing because on occasion I’ll look over his shoulder and say something like ‘aspect’, or ‘diadem’, as if it’s an answer he hasn’t got… on this occasion, I wasn’t teasing and dariole was the correct answer.

A dariole is as you might guess the French word for a small, cylindrical mould, but it can also be whatever is cooked inside it, especially when it’s a dessert that is baked. The origins of the word may have been something to do with gilding a fancy dessert ‘dorée’ – peut-être pour doriole, de dorer : ‘pâtisserie dorée (au beurre, aux œufs)’  – perhaps to gild as in pastry ‘gilded’ with butter or eggs.

The French Wictionnaire says:

dariole, féminin

  • Petite pièce de pâtisserie, contenant de la crème. (a small pastry containing cream)
    • Manger des darioles.
  • Coup donné avec la main ou le poing. (to give someone a thump with a fist)
    • Donner, repasser, allonger des darioles.
    • V’là que je vous y allonge une dariole (Le Casse gueule,1841, ds Larchey, Excentricités lang. fr., 1865, p. 105
  • (Argot) Derrière. (slang – bottom, bum)
    • Par les darioles, sur les darioles, par derrière.
    • On a tout le temps les gris-bleus sur les darioles. (Bruant, 1901, p. 157)

Apparently, the traditional way to make a dessert dariole is to line the little tin with puff pastry and then fill it with an almond cream which is then baked. it sounds delicious! I thought that darioles were like an egg custard with other things in them, and I didn’t realise that there could also be savoury darioles. The origin of these little delights go back a long way to the Middle Ages; it was common then to mix sweet and savoury ingredients (mincemeat used to have actual meat in it – now all that remains is suet)  so in the past you might have found fruit, cheese, bone marrow or fish inside the pastry.

I first came across darioles when I worked as a waitress, many, many years ago, and the chef made delicious little cabinet puddings in dariole tins. I don’t have a recipe for them, but from the little National mark Calendar of Cooking, I do have a recipe for:

Egg Darioles

  • 4 or 5 eggs
  • 2 oz cooked ham, chicken, veal or rabbit, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp cream or butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 or 5 rounds of buttered toast
  1. but the dariole moulds (or ramekins or glass dishes)
  2. mix the meat and herbs, then coat the inside of the moulds with it, leaving a well in the centre
  3. break an egg into each dariole and sprinkle with pepper and salt and  teaspoon of cream or a nut of butter
  4. place in a pan containing hot water to reach halfway up the outside of the moulds
  5. poach in a moderate oven until the eggs are just set
  6. have the buttered toast hot and ready and turn the darioles out onto it
  7. garnish with parsley and can be served with tomato sauce

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